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Scale Modeling Tips & Tools Monthly, Issue #043-- "July Tip Sheet"
July 15, 2010
July 15, 2010

Summertime Scale Modelers Tip Sheet

Things get kind of slow around the modeling desk in July. A lot of modelers hit the road with families, others slip into the lazy, hazy days of summer routine. They aren't likely to sit still for heavy duty tutorials or heavy duty instruction.

We've been saving a string of tips just for such occasions. Some are new, some not so new, but there is something here for everyone.

I've had occasion to put some of this first group of ideas into practice. They are worth sharing again:

Mess Unmakers (No, it isn't a word)

There is no such word as unmake and that probably means a number of these efforts to salvage models you have messed up won’t work either but they are worth a try. You might also try a mix-n-fix by taking elements from one fix and adding to a component or components of others. It’s your call.

Glue smudged canopy glass (clear styrene) there is the hard way and the easy way. If the smudge isn’t too big, you can try sanding and polishing. Break out your finest grades of sandpaper. Use them in decreasing levels of grit to the plastic in the canopy, windshield, or window. Then pick the finest you have that will smooth it out. Then “take the feeling of cleanliness to the extreme”. That’s right use tooth paste or fine rubbing compound to start to bring the clear back to the plastic. Once it's as clear and smooth as you can get it dip it in Future floor wax and that will finish it.

That’s the hard way. You can make your task a lot easier by using the smudged area (your lemon) to make lemonade, your scratch rebuild. If your gluey fingerprint is on the periphery of the canopy/windshield; consider a simple paint job to make that portion match the color of the bordering material to represent a “quick fix” or field repair of battle damage. You can also do this by simulating duct tape over the damage.

If you want to get real tricky, drill a few “bullet holes” in the middle of the glue smudge, add some radiating cracks to simulate battle damage.

Mending cracked plastic without stitches most usually involves the right adhesive. They range from 3M’s Scotch-Weld Two Part Urethane Adhesive ($34.00 a cartridge) to Aleene’s Fabric Fushion Glue pen weighing in at $2.99. The point is, there are several urethane adhesives on the market that work extremely well for patching cracked plastic. Alternately, you can use an epoxy cement to bond the plastic together. You can also fill the crack with plastic filler or putty. After applying, you can sand it down to blend in with the surrounding plastic. Look for a variety that you can tint or that already is colored to match your plastic object.

Over-spent Hobby Budget, Get it back on track That new Mallett looks real neat making its way around your layout, but it also drained your hobby budget for the next six months, you really needed some new tools. You’ve heard it before, in fact you probably spoke it yourself “Don’t skimp on tools” if you want a quality job. But we’re not talking about sculpt

It takes a sharp blade to make accurate, quality cuts when working with paper stock. The best blade for the job is the Snap Blade knife. You won't find one easier to keep razor sharp (just clip off the tip). You can open it with one hand, they are light and you won't find a cheaper knife. They normally sell for about a dollar, I found a three-pack in a Dollar Store for a buck. The cheaper the better. You don't want rugged metal ones, like those offered by the big box stores; they are bigger, heavier, costlier and no better. What you want is a cheap all-plastic made-in-China throw-away that should cost no more than a buck.

Make Your Household Chores Pay Dividends to your hobby One of my household chores is taking out the trash every other day and I have found these bags to be an inexhaustible supply of modeling pieces parts.

It seems we are locked into a pattern of throwing away plastic food containers two or three times a week. I am getting in the habit of snagging those that will serve a higher purpose.. I like the hard plastic (black bottom, clear top) and use them for several modeling purposes:

• Corralling parts for a kit bashing project I am working on so they are in one place.
• They serve as a palette for glues and blobs of paint.
• For RC racers they are handy in your pit kit to store tires, small hand tools, replacement parts, wires, batteries Xacto knives, extra screws and zip ties.
• Such plastic boxes, often stackable, lend themselves well to storing and cataloging model railroad rolling stock.
• They are handy for storing the myriad of detail parts in an organized fashion in place of the all-to-common junk drawer.
• They are durable (just ask your average dump manager) and are easy to replace.

RC Flying Tips

After you have spent weeks building that new and have turned out something that really pleases you, your first flight needs to be accomplished with a bit of care.

You won't find it in the instruction manual, but you might want to test glide your model before firing up its motor. The purpose is to check out its glide characteristics to get some idea of what to expect if the motor dies in flight, or runs out of gas.

For your test glide keep it over long grass if possible. If something goes wrong, you want to keep the landing as gentle as possible.


If your RC plane has a landing gear and you have the option of a paved surface, try a takeoff from the ground rather than a hand launch to get airborne.

Place your model on the flat surface facing into the wind and stand directly behind it with your controller at the ready.

Crank up the motor to full power and let the model accelerate along the ground - you may need to use the rudder to keep the plane going in a straight line. Very soon it will take off from the ground and your flight has begun!

Ship Modeling Tips

Laser Level for Waterlines I've had the chance to use a laser level in a variety of modeling tasks. One of my favorites is charting a waterline on the hull of ship models. The setup is probably the most time consuming and will depend on the model you are working on. I like to cradle the model in spaghetti, err pool spaghetti tube pieces.

I use two pieces about 3 inches in diameter and a foot in length with notches about 4-5 inches in from each end. Cut a couple more tube pieces about a foot longer than your model and glue into the notches to cradle the hull.

stabilize the laser level at the right height to cast the line onto the hull. I have a jig which helps hold the pencil straight while the line is drawn.

Sun tan lotion of about spf 50 has been known to give copper hull plating an aged look without turning it green. You can deepen the color with multiple applications. Test it first on scrap copper.

I found that if you turn the model around and make sure the marks line up on the bow and stern on each side, you have it all set correctly, then I used a pencil held in a jig to follow the laser line around the hull to make the mark.

Tips For Racing RC Cars and Trucks

RC racing, particularly with Nitro fuel, requires an _usty-free environment.

Rusty--Water, moisture, even a good belt of humidity can wreck havoc with the inner workings of your car by creating rust on some very fine suspension parts like wishbones, hinge pins, and camber links etc. Things like bearings, drive shafts and hinge pins rust quickly when the car is put away wet or dirty. You can prevent a moisture build-up with a light spray of WD-40 or other thin oils. Be sure to wipe away the excess with a dry paint brush.

Dusty--Dust is another enemy of good, clean racing. Dust, dirt and silica can get down into an engine of a racer and wear its parts out in less than 30 seconds to a minute. The cure, buy a new motor. You can prevent this by operating only with clean oil-laden filters which trap the dirt.

< b>--A musty basement, often the most hospitable of work surfaces for RC vehicles mildew, odors, dry rot, rodents and insects. None of these will do much damage in the short term. Long-term, they aren’t good for humans and don’t do much good for finely tuned suspensions either.

Busty--So keep out the _ustys. Oh yeah, and that last one Busty they tend to be a distraction so hopefully, your racing opponent isn’t …

Model Railroading Tips

Scenery--When you are dealing with a expansive, woodsy scene, go for variety in colors, textures and types.

Whatever you use to resemble leaves make sure it is greens (three of four different shades) and don't be afraid to mix in occasional yellows and reds, depending of course on the season.

And don't forget the occasional dead tree erect and deadfall hanging at a precarious angle.


Ballasting--Don't strive for perfection. Take a look at the ballast along a stretch of mainline, even yards. You'd be surprised to know they don't have the same number of rocks on one side of the track as the other.

And every rock doesn't look like it came from the same bag, a lot is off color.

Your Help and Ideas Needed
To Expand SMH Idea Base

Making daily decisions involving for the past 35 months has led to the creation of over 375 pages of articles on the various facets of scale modeling, this monthly e-zine and a host of modeling questions answered.

As we get ready to embark on our third year, I am hoping to open the site up to input from other scale modelers. You may have noticed the Navigation Bar has been sub-divided into the major hobbies covered.

Each of these sections now has one or two pages that invite participation with questions, tips and pictures regarding your various modeling endeavors.

We want to hear from you as do the other 25,000 modelers who log onto this site monthly.

As I get ready to roll into my 71st year, I can’t believe how much I have learned about hobby activities In the past two years. I have heard from other modelers with similar experiences.

To help me develop and maintain my website your comments on its content are essential. You can send me your comments by visiting the “Voice Your Opinion” feature at the top of the Navigation stack in the left column on each page.

It was never my intention to make this website a one way street as my knowledge is no where deep enough for me to be termed an “Authority”. I hunger for your feedback, comments, ideas, tutorials, plans, pictures and even your negative comments if considered constructive.

The Internet and that includes work best when they are interactive and that is collaboration only you can provide. It has been a pleasure serving as your guide for these past two years and by no means am I throwing in the towel, for I honestly believe the building and maintaining of this website are instrumental in keeping my mind active.

I want to open up this site in the fast lane. That is your part of the two-way street.

Its In Your Best Interest

If you have been giving some thought to launching your own home business in 2010, it is worth your time to take a look at what I found:

Steps To Success

Until Next Month

Make It Your Best Effort!

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